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Organisation: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Name: Lela Johnson
E-Mail: lelasjohnson@gmail.com
Category: Student Work

Name of Project: Blackout 2003

Description of Project: On August 14, 2003, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, hundreds of cities across the midwest and northeast went dark as the United States experienced the worst blackout in its history. Buildings, subways, elevators were evacuated, computers and electric billboards blinked off, airports were disrupted, air conditioners and fans halted amidst the summer heat, and news agencies scrambled to cover the story and uncover just what had happened and who—or what—was to blame. Over the course of months, the story grew more complex as more nuanced aspects of the blackout emerged. We all became armchair experts on the fragmentation of the power grid, real versus reactive power, and the interconnectedness of US/Canadian electric. And what better way to learn about these macro-concepts, than to analyze one material moment, one traceable chain of human and machine events that reveals the totality of the state of electricity in North America.

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